From The Stage To The Studio With Mangrenade! Part Two

From The Stage To The Studio With Mangrenade! Part Two

Three months ago Ben, Nick, and Erik, aka Mangrenade,  began pre-production of their new album Lions in the Parking Lot. Today we join them in the studio as they record the new album. The Cincinnati band ventures a bit north to Columbus, Ohio to the Tone Shoppe for a forty-eight hour recording session. I figured what better way to tell the story than to have them write a journal following the process giving you an inside look on the trials and tribulations of the recording process with a deadline. Vocalist/Bassist Ben Morgan gives us this insight throughout the process…

It’s 9 am in Vangrenade.  Nick Thieme (guitars, vox) is riding shotgun, and several cups of fresh coffee are fueling his excited and anxious state.  Erik (E-Rock) Olson is hunched in the single remaining backseat (the rest of the seats all having been removed to make room for the monster load of gear the band decided to take to the studio).  He is undoubtedly uncomfortable to say the least, but in the last year of this being his normal seat, he has never said a word about it.  He certainly won’t say anything for this trip, either.  I, Johny Benjamin (Morgan), am at the helm of the ship.  We are supposed to be in Columbus by 11 to load in and begin recording by noon.  None of us are under the delusion that we will be there on time.  Spirits remain high despite this fact, and there’s a lot of talk about what we’re gonna be doing and how we think we’re gonna do it.  Each of us seems quite confident in their knowledge of, and ability to execute these 4 songs perfectly with little effort… boy I hope we aren’t wrong.

It’s 12:30 now.  We’re actually  loaded in and doing some tone hunting,  Right now it’s about getting the best mic placement we can find, and getting E-Rock to hit that snare harder!  The Tone Shoppe is definitely an incredible studio, certainly the nicest and highest recording quality this bassist has ever worked in.  Eric Cronstein is about the nicest guy ever, too.  He’s really giving me the impression that he will be producing this record every bit as much as engineering it.  He’s already told me that what we’ve been missing while recording is someone to hold our feet to the fire, someone who won’t let us leave the room until we’ve put down the best take we are capable of putting down.  It’s also been decided that we will be recording this record live, with no click track.  As much as I LOVE this method of recording, I’m starting to really wonder how tough this is gonna get.

It’s now 3:00, and I can tell you that I’m already sick of this!  We’ve not even got one of the four songs down yet!  We haven’t even played 3 of the 4 songs!!  EK is making us work for it, believe me.  I’ve certainly put down more than a few takes that are great, but nothing we do seems to be good enough for this guy!  (I’m actually so thrilled and appreciative that EK is doing this for us, it’s what we need to do this record justice.)

6:00. Title track is done, minus the vocals.  Working on “Now I’m Just A Ghost”, the last song on the record.  This process is really long and very boring.  I can’t really think of anything notable to write.  We’re just playing and analyzing.  Lots of coffee and cigarettes.  I’m hungry.

10:00, and we are done with the “Just a Ghost” .  Gonna play “I’m the One” now, per my request.  I felt like it’s such a fun song to play, and we need fun right now.  I will say that our sound is huge.  Everything is crystal clear and so dirty at the same time!  I really think this was a good idea.  EK knows us, he knows our sound.  He’s doing everything to boost that, to highlight the key things that make “our sound.”  The drums sound big, and are tuned low.  The bass is so fuzzy, so, so fuzzy!  The guitars are not multi-tracked at this point, all I hear is the live rhythm guitar part… and it sounds like Thieme is playing through 10 JCM’s and 20 4×10’s!!  I’m saying this record is just big and nasty… kind of like Mangrenade.

2:00 am, and we’re done for the night.  “I’m the One” sounds great, and really didn’t seem to take quite as long as the first two.  The left hand fingers of Thieme and myself are in so much pain.  Blisters, blood, and other sorts of nastiness abound.  It’s not a good scene for our left hands.  E-Rock’s grips aren’t cut open, but he seems to be in quite a bit of pain as well (he won’t say anything, but I’ve noticed he holds his glass a little differently than normal.  We also started vocals for “Lions In The Parking Lot” (the song).  Got some pretty good takes of that, we’ll be using some of it I think.  We attempted to start live tracking for “Godless Heathen,” but had no business doing so; again, our hands.  I wonder what it will feel like tomorrow.

11:00 am.  It’s tomorrow.  The hand’s actually feel quite a bit better.  Certainly up for the task at hand.  We’ve just returned from the Waffle House that literally is in the front yard of The Tone Shoppe.  Good breakfast, great coffee!  Setting up to track “Godless” right now.  Hopefully it’ll be quick.

3:00.  It wasn’t quick.  It wasn’t fun.  It didn’t feel good.  Tensions and tempers rose.  Very unpleasant experience.  I will say that it does sound great, now that we’re finally done with the tracking for it.  All of the unpleasantness of the experience is worth it, and it appears that no one is holding any grudges or anything.  Now we’ll just track vocals for the rest of the songs, do a few extra guitar parts, and add a little back up percussion.  EASY!

5:00 guitars are all done now, and boy did it add some texture and taste to the songs!!  I’m just so excited for how this thing is sounding, as are all else involved!

8:00  Vocals are now nearly complete.  Just gang vox for “Lions” to go.  Been a relatively painless experience, but Thieme has sure decided to show some range!  He goes awful damn low, and so damned high I don’t know how he’ll ever do it live!

11:30  Tracking for the record is officially closed.  We’re loading up now, and are we a strung out looking bunch of dudes!  All four of us are just beat.  E-Rock has to be at work in the morning.  EK has another band due in at 10 am.  Thieme and I will be heading 3 hours into Indiana to move me back here to SW Ohio.  We have a very long drive ahead of us.  We all know it, we don’t talk about it.  We’re so happy with the record.  Proud of the performances we were pushed to deliver.  Proud of the evolution of our recorded material.  We love it.  That’s all I can say.  We agree that it was worth it.  Maybe we could be a studio band, after all…

The third and final part to this series, we’ll take a look at the finished product. The new album Lions in the Parking Lot is an incredible album that the band should be very proud to have completed and is worth checking out. But more about that in the final installment.

Artist Name: Mangrenade
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Genre: indie, rock
Band Members: Nick Thieme, Ben Morgan, Erik Olsen